If you're a climate activist—or you just care about clean air and water—today was a pretty darn good day. It wasn't the first day that President Obama took strong climate action, but it was perhaps the most significant. Over his first four years, Obama raised fuel efficiency standards to historic levels and made the single largest investment in clean energy ever, the Stimulus Plan, which contains over $90 billion for green projects. But Obama hadn't gone after the single largest source of carbon pollution, coal, which accounts for about 40 percent of U.S. emissions.
Today that changed. The president ordered the EPA to crack down on the country's dirtiest coal plants. These relics use last century's technology and have to go to make way for clean energy. These new regulations, combined with renewed efforts for the US to lead at the global level, have re-built some of the trust between Americans and the president.
The president also singled out Keystone XL. The pipeline has become a flashpoint for activists, who have built a campaign to stop it that has become the largest in a generation. The president set a high bar for the project—it can't lead to an increase in greenhouse emissions. And since that's the whole point of the project, enviros now expect the president to deny the permit for the pipeline.
Today was a good day. Let's hope it's the first of many more. There's a lot of work left to do, but it's good to know that the climate has a friend in the White House. Onward.
Check out the White House's infographic about the new climate plan.
Coal power plant image via Shutterstock